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Dozens reported killed in eastern Ukraine fighting

By The Associated Press

This article was published May 27, 2014 at 9:49 a.m.

DONETSK, Ukraine — High-caliber weapons fire echoed sporadically Tuesday through the eastern city of Donetsk and the mayor urged residents to stay home a day after fighting between Ukrainian troops and separatist rebels reportedly killed dozens.

Donetsk mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko said 40 people, including two civilians, were killed Monday after troops repelled a rebel attempt to seize control of the airport, Ukraine's second-largest.

Local morgues were overflowing with bodies, and rebel leaders said Tuesday that the death toll could rise up to 100.

The city of about 1 million was mostly quiet in the afternoon after an arson attack in the morning that torched a local hockey rink. Occasional gunfire was heard in the morning outside Donetsk airport.

The battles came as billionaire candy magnate Petro Poroshenko claimed victory in Sunday's presidential vote, which authorities in Kiev had hoped would unify the deeply divided nation. Poroshenko, who is yet to be sworn in, has vowed to negotiate a peaceful end to the insurgency in the east, but also has called the separatists "Somali pirates" and promised he would stop them from sowing more chaos.

The bodies of about 30 insurgents were brought Tuesday to a hospital morgue in Donetsk, said Leonid Baranov of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic, who was at the Kalinin morgue. The fighters had been wounded and were being transported to a hospital in a truck when it was shot up by government forces, Baranov said.

Baranov said up to 100 rebels were probably killed in Monday's fighting, adding that many bodies had not yet been recovered because they were in areas under government control.

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